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The T exas H omeless E ducation O ffice. Creating Trauma Informed Schools: A Helpful Approach to Working with Highly Mobile Students. Who are Highly Mobile Students? Homeless In Foster Care/Wards of the State Unaccompanied Youth Military Migrant Undocumented Runaway.

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creating trauma informed schools a helpful approach to working with highly mobile students

The

Texas Homeless

Education

Office

Creating Trauma Informed Schools: A Helpful Approach to Working with Highly Mobile Students

slide2
Who are Highly Mobile Students?

Homeless

In Foster Care/Wards of the State

Unaccompanied Youth

Military

Migrant

Undocumented

Runaway

impact of high mobility
Impact of High Mobility
  • Higher rates of acute and chronic illness, depression and anxiety; experiences of trauma and loss
  • For unaccompanied youth, lack of support from any caring adult
  • Unaccompanied youth are frequently victimized. As many as half have been assaulted or robbed; one in ten runaways reports being raped – likely a low report
  • According to the National Runaway Switchboard, 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year from assault, illness, or suicide
  • Perform lower on academic assessments
  • 75% of unaccompanied homeless youth do not graduate
  • Runaway youth often know what they are running from but have no realistic idea of what they are running to
many students are homeless due to traumatic events
Many students are homeless due to traumatic events
  • Over half of callers to Runaway Hotline report being physically abused at home; over one-third report sexual abuse; over two-thirds report that at least one of their parents abuses drugs or alcohol – single most common predictor of runaway behavior
  • Other youth are thrown out of their homes because they are pregnant, gay or lesbian, or because their parents believe they are old enough to take care of themselves
  • Some children and youth are abandoned by their parents, or are on their own due to death of parents
  • Domestic Violence plays a role in homelessness
  • Some children and youth are in unstable living situations due to parental incarceration, illness, or hospitalization
many students are homeless due to traumatic events1
Many students are homeless due to traumatic events
  • Over half of youth living in shelters report that their parents either told them to leave, or knew they were leaving and did not care
  • Some youth become homeless with their families, but, due to lack of space in doubled-up or motel situations, end up homeless on their own
  • Natural disasters cause youth to be separated from family during their homelessness
  • Aging out of foster care into homelessness; running away from foster care placements due to abuse in the foster home, or to reconnect with siblings and family
slide6
Being in a highly mobile situation

hurts children:

  • Grief due toLoss of family, home, possessions, school, community, friends, sense of belonging, self-esteem and identity
  • Live in strange, chaotic, overcrowded situations
  • Live in dangerous street situations vulnerable to sex, drug trafficking and other victimization
  • Live in fear, worry and confusion, take on adult concerns
  • Repeated trauma impacts brain development and behavior; and normal childhood development
  • Highly mobile children are 2 to 4 times more likely to have serious physical and/or mental health issues
slide7

Runaway Youth who are Unaccompanied often Experience Trauma

Runaway and kicked-out youth often experience abuse, neglect, conflict, vulnerability, loss, and trauma

This often results in a student that has difficulty focusing, attending, sitting still, keeping up, participating, having resources, and/or

controlling feelings and behaviors.

Unfortunately schools often treat these behaviors as discipline issues with punitive interventions

what is trauma
What is Trauma?

Trauma is any experience that threatens injury, pain and/or death

Trauma experiences overwhelm the natural coping mechanisms of a person

Trauma experiences may be experienced first hand or witnessed happening to others

Trauma experiences leave one in fear, disbelief, without hope, and feeling powerlessness and out of control

what is trauma1
What is Trauma?

Not all highly mobile students have experienced Big “T” Trauma

Even small “t” trauma can cause issues for students

Everyone experiences trauma differently, and reacts differently

Everyone has defense mechanisms

Everyone develops coping skills

common traumatic experiences
Common traumatic experiences

Big T Experiences: violence, physical and/or sexual abuse, severe neglect, disasters, bullying, divorce, death, accidents, loss, extreme instability

Little t Experiences: mobility, loss of: home, community, neighborhood, school, housing; moving in with strangers, losing track of loved ones, losing friends, losing mentors, feeling lost in new school and unfamiliar school surroundings and behind in school work

Experiences that are big T to one child may be little t to another and vice versa; sometimes little t traumas tend to be minimized or negated

what is complex trauma and how does it affect a child
What is Complex Trauma and how does it affect a child?

Exposure to:

  • Multiple events and/or prolonged exposure
  • Invasive and interpersonal
  • Simultaneous and sequential occurrences

Can have wide-ranging and lasting effects on developmental functioning

  • Affects a child’s physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-being
  • Affects a child’s ability to think, learn and concentrate
  • Affects impulse control, self-regulation
  • Affects self-image and ability to build relationships with others
  • Affects trust building and attachment
trauma gets carried into the school
Trauma gets carried into the school

Trauma undermines a child’s ability:

  • To Learn
  • To form relationships
  • To self-regulate and behave appropriately

Schools should be aware so as not to compound the trauma

Schools can have a positive impact that helps build resiliency through appropriate response

common traumatic experiences affect individual children differently
Common traumatic experiences affect individual children differently

Why is the same event traumatic and overwhelming for one child and not for another?

1. Child’s own resilience and protective factors

2. How trauma is responded to is often the key factor in healing

resiliency
Resiliency

Is the ability to bounce back from difficult and/or traumatic experiences

Is the ability to develop positive coping mechanisms

Is the ability to thrive not just survive

Protective factors include:

Child’s own strengths/predisposition

Family and environmental strengths

Family and societal response to trauma

Learned coping skills

resiliency intrinsic and extrinsic protective factors
Resiliency: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Protective Factors

The intrinsic factors are seen as three building blocks that are necessary for resilience:

  • A secure base – the child feels a sense of belonging and security
  • Good self-esteem – an internal sense of worth and competence
  • A sense of self-efficacy – a sense of mastery and control, along with an accurate understanding of personal strengths and limitations.
resiliency1
Resiliency

The extrinsic factors are described as:

  • at least one secure attachment relationship
  • access to wider supports such as extended family and friends
  • positive childhood, school and or community experiences

This framework provides a useful basis for informing assessment

slide17
Factors promoting resilience in all phases of the lifecycle:
  • • Strong social support networks.
  • • The presence of at least one unconditionally supportive parent or parent substitute.
  • • A committed mentor or other person from outside the family.
  • • Positive school experiences.
  • • A sense of mastery and a belief that one’s own efforts can make a difference.
  • • Participation in a range of extra-curricular activities.
  • • The capacity to re-frame adversities so that the beneficial as well as the damaging effects are recognized.
  • • The ability – or –opportunity – to ‘make a difference’ by helping others
  • • Not to be excessively sheltered from challenging situations that provide opportunities to develop coping skills
assessment
Assessment
  • The behavior – all behavior has meaning
  • Traumatic incident or experiences
  • Mobility
  • Stability
  • Psychosocial history
  • Resiliency factors
  • The intrinsic factors: child’s healthy development, strengths, coping skills, world view
  • The extrinsic factors, family, environment, friends, school, community, - at least one secure attached relationship
  • Coping mechanisms
  • New skill development
coping mechanisms
Coping Mechanisms

The means a child has for dealing with and making sense of their experiences

Coping Mechanisms may work in some settings but be viewed as inappropriate/ a cause for discipline in others

Tearing down defenses and removing coping mechanisms too soon can be harmful

Removing a coping mechanism without assisting the student to develop others can be harmful

slide20

Schools can provide stability

Schools may not be able to provide the student with their home, room, neighborhood, family members, lost friends, possessions, or remove the traumatic incident, but school can provide:school stability, sense of community,security, safety, lack of triggers, predictable routines, opportunities for self-esteem building, sense of belonging, and opportunities for empowerment – ability to make choices, experiencing mastery

slide21
Schools can assist the traumatized student
  • Schools are the significant community for children
  • Teachers are primary role models and a source of safe relationships
  • Trauma Sensitive school environment benefits:

1. Children with known trauma

2. Children with unidentified trauma –

probably the greater number than those

with known trauma, as much goes

unreported

3. Peers impacted by traumatized class mates

slide22

Schools can provide stability

What is a trauma informed approach?

Trauma-informed care is an approach to engaging students with histories of trauma that recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role that trauma has played in their lives.

TIC seeks to change the paradigm from one that asks, "What\'s wrong with you?" to one that asks, "What has happened to you?"

what does a trauma informed school look like
What does a Trauma Informed School Look Like

Taking on, Identifying and addressing barriers:

  • Tendency to see trauma as a child and home problem, not the school’s problem
  • Blaming the student or parent
  • Staff feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed – parallels traumatized child’s feelings – can seem contagious
  • Balancing the individual student’s need and the rest of the class as a whole
  • Lack of skills and resources for handling trauma
  • Lack of support and consultation for staff
  • Role confusion of the teacher and mental health professionals
  • Fear
what does a trauma informed school look like1
What does a Trauma Informed School Look Like?

Creating:

  • Flexible framework and policy review
  • Full staff training and participation
  • Consistent interactions
  • Understanding of triggers – de-trigger the environment
  • Staff sensitivity training
  • Understand the connection between experience, emotion and behavior – Children don’t understand why they do things, if teachers don’t understand either they will continue to be punitive
  • Understand the traumatized child must learn skills to control their response to triggers
  • All healing comes from positive relationships
  • Use interventions other than punishment
  • Appropriate evaluation
  • Referral resources and partnerships, i.e., therapists
  • Classroom structure with predictable and clear limits and rules
slide25

Susan

Susan, age 16, has a fight with her mother and leaves home. She shows up at school the next day with a black eye. She is wearing the same clothes she had on the day before. She does not have her assignments completed. She gets angry with her teacher when her teacher chastises her for not doing her homework. She tells the teacher she has more important things to worry about than her silly homework assignments and bursts into tears.

How do you think the teacher is likely to handle this situation?

How do you think the teacher should handle this situation?

How would you advise the teacher?

What would you do to help Susan?

Is this a big T or little t trauma for Susan?

How might the teacher’s response help or hurt the situation?

slide26

Bob

Bob is 16 years oldand is trying to break free of gang involvement. In order to protect his family, he moves from friend to friend’s house, and has changed schools twice to avoid gang members. Bob has been in numerous fights because of his gang involvement, and has done a number of things that he is very regretful about. Bob is behind in his classes. His teachers report that he is often tardy or misses school, doesn’t seem to pay attention in class, often is daydreaming, and jumps at noises like dropped books, raised voices or even when the bell rings. The teacher tells you that she thinks Bob is lazy and just not interested in succeeding in school.

What do you think might be going on with Bob?

How would you advise this teacher?

Can you identify any intrinsic or extrinsic resiliency factors for Bob?

jesse
Jesse

Jesse Montoya, 15 was living with his parents near Juarez. Jesse has seen several people shot and killed. His best friend was knifed as he and Jesse walked home from school. His parents sent him to stay with his aunt and uncle in Austin in order to escape the violence. His aunt and uncle report that Jesse is angry and hostile with them. Yet at school his teachers report that he is very quiet, shy, and docile. He doesn’t do well in class because he never asks questions about things he doesn’t understand, and mostly doesn’t seem interested in the subjects. Because he doesn’t cause any problems in class, most of his teachers just ignore him believing him incapable of the work.

What would you do first to assess Jesse’s situation?

What intrinsic and extrinsic resiliency factors can you identify?

How would you advise his teachers?

How would you advise his aunt and uncle?

slide28

Jimmy

Jimmy, age 17 ran away from foster care for the third time. He is staying between the houses of two aunts. CPS has custody and knows where he is, but is not going to return him to a foster home. Jimmy has a long history of abuse both in his birth family and in two of his 16 foster placements since he first came into care at age 8. Jimmy enrolls himself in school and attends every day. However, he does not seem to make friends, and does not join in any of the activities at school. His teachers say he is distant and unreachable. His school work is below average, but he offers no excuses or explanations when his teachers’ question him about the poor quality of his work.

How would you assess this situation?

What intrinsic and extrinsic resiliency factors can you identify?

How would you advise his teachers?

How would you advise Jimmy?

mary lou
Mary Lou

Mary Lou Jones, 17 is living in a van. She ran away from home because of her stepfather’s abuse. Mary Lou wants to enroll in your district. She believes she was immunized in Arkansas where she lived with her mother and stepfather. She cannot afford to get her records from Arkansas since she owes a book fine of $47. She is afraid to contact the school in case it notifies her mother and stepfather. The school registrar tells Mary Lou that she cannot enroll without a parent or guardian, and she needs to park her van elsewhere, out of your district. The registrar tells Mary Lou that if she registers for school, the district has to report her to CPS and they will send her back to her mother and stepfather.

How would you advise the school registrar?

How would you advise Mary Lou?

What kinds of things would you address in an assessment?

What are the intrinsic and extrinsic resiliency factors?

trauma informed teaching approaches
Trauma Informed teaching approaches

Welcoming environment = sense of belonging

Safe environment= calm, orderly, clear limits and rules

Consistently and fairly apply rules

Identify strengths/competence = positive relationships

Predictability = safety

Transitions without trauma = preparation & practice

Positive behavioral supports = not punitive

What happened to you not what’s wrong with you approach that looks behind the behavior to feelings

Language - put words to feelings = understanding, self-awareness and clarity

Creative play = to be a child, to safely express emotion

Provide choices = empowerment

Opportunities for empowerment = safety and control

resources
Resources

The Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO) www.utdanacenter.org/theo

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth: www.naehcy.org

Report: “Helping Traumatized Children Learn” Supportive school environments for children traumatized by family violence,

http://www.massadvocates.org/download-book.php

Jeanne Stamp, LCSW, LMFT, LCDC, ACSW

Senior Program Coordinator

512-475-6898

1-800-446-3142 (hotline)

[email protected]

resources2
Resources

The Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO) www.utdanacenter.org/theo

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth: www.naehcy.org

Report: “Helping Traumatized Children Learn” Supportive school environments for children traumatized by family violence,

http://www.massadvocates.org/download-book.php

Jeanne Stamp, LCSW, LMFT, LCDC, ACSW

Senior Program Coordinator

512-475-6898

1-800-446-3142 (hotline)

[email protected]

www.utdanacenter.org/theo

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